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PLoS One. 2007 Sep 12;2(9):e863.

Toll-like receptor expression and responsiveness of distinct murine splenic and mucosal B-cell subsets.

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Vaccine Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America.



Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are pattern recognition receptors that recognize pathogen associated molecular patterns and trigger innate immunity leading to initiation of adaptive immunity. TLR-mediated activation of dendritic cells (DCs) is known to be a critical event in the initiation of cellular and humoral immune responses. Recent work however suggests that B cells also express TLRs, and that they can be activated via TLR ligands. However, whether such B cell activation occurs only on memory B cells, or whether it can also occur on truly naïve B cells remains controversial. Furthermore, the expression and functional relevance of TLRs on distinct subsets of B cells, which are known to play differential roles in humoral responses is not known.


In this study, we investigated the expression pattern of different TLRs in distinct subsets of murine B cells (naïve, memory, follicular, marginal zone, B-1 and peyer's patch). In contrast to the reported restricted expression pattern of TLRs in human peripheral blood naïve B cells, murine splenic naïve B cells express a variety of TLRs with the exception of TLR5 and 8. Consistent with this relatively broad expression pattern, murine naive B cells proliferate and secrete antibody to a variety of TLR agonists in vitro, in the absence of B-cell receptor cross-linking. In addition, we observed subtle differences in the antibody secretion pattern of follicular, marginal zone, B-1 and peyer's patch B-cell subsets.


Thus various B cell subsets, including truly naïve B cells, express multiple TLRs, and signaling via such TLRs results in their robust proliferation and antibody secretion, even in the absence of dendritic cell activation, or T-cell help.

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